Why doesn’t Nintendo release every game they create in every market? The traditional glib answer is some variant of “Nintendo is a business and not a charity.” This may be true, but some companies have found a way to both make money and pay tribute to their medium. For example, HBO is known for keeping shows afloat despite poor ratings. These “prestige shows” are too good to simply cancel and for the sake of television as an art, HBO keeps them on the air.
Nintendo has made billions of dollars selling video games and has some of the most dedicated fans in the industry; it seems like they should not only be a producer of games but also part of the video game vanguard by protecting and honoring interactive entertainment. Unfortunately, Nintendo and Nintendo of America more specifically simply do not agree with this philosophy. They are clearly a corporation looking out for number one and nothing else.
The following is a list of the more recent titles Nintendo of America has deemed unworthy of release in the United States. This is by no means an exhaustive list; Nintendo has a long history of not releasing finished games (Mother) and these listed are only the most recent prominent titles.
Their explanation: No explanation needed. The cover is a guy in tights and a rainbow. And it’s called Captainâ˜…Rainbow, complete with a star instead of a space between words.
Does it make sense?: Of the games on this list, Captain Rainbow being trapped (or quarantined) in Japan actually makes the most sense. Even I can’t deny very few people would want it here, which is a shame because a legion of gamers here grew up with the NES and this game pays tribute to a lot of lesser known Famicom characters.
Why I want it: It pays homage to Birdo. More importantly, it was made by Skip, and Nintendo didn’t give us Giftpia, either. Like any red blooded American man, I enjoy flamboyant, odd Japanese games and always want more. At least the guys in Skip are used to making games we don’t get to play, since they came from the developer Lov De Lic and none of their games got localized, either.
Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland
Their explanation: No explanation, but it can be assumed that Tingle lacks a certain je ne se quois, call it heterosexuality, and this prevents him from being an American super star.
Does it make sense?: It makes some sense. Americans hate people who threaten their sexuality because we are secretly all gay and unable to cope with this truth. Tingle is a Zelda character, though, and Zelda tends to do better here than anywhere else in the world. This man fairy is something of an enigma, created for the Japanese for a series that isn’t particularly big in Japan.
Why I want it: Tingle is awesome. On top of that, Zelda is an excellent series and a high quality action adventure on the DS is always welcome. Especially one reportedly this bizarre.
Takt of Magic
Their explanation: The words have never been uttered by anyone at Nintendo of America.
Does it make sense?: The original game in the series, Lost Magic on the DS, didn’t sell well enough in the states for us to get the sequel. Even so, this Nintendo-published third entry makes good use of the wiimote, something few Wii games do.
Why I want it: The original game was flawed but a lot of fun. Drawing runes to cast spells was an original idea and the Wii offers owners few RPGs. Sure this is an RPG-tinged RTS, but anything is better than the eternal wait for Arc Rise Fantasia.
Fatal Frame 4
Their explanation: None officially. It leaked that there are apparently significant bugs in the game and Nintendo told Tecmo to fix them and Tecmo told Nintendo to fuck itself.
Does it make sense?: Nintendo decided it wanted to produce and publish this entry of the series yet somehow this is the first to not make it out of Japan. If some bugs were the issue couldn’t Nintendo have spent a few bucks fixing them? They are sitting on 400 gazillion yen but are typically unwilling to go the extra eighth of a mile.
Why I want it: A big production Wii game is mildly enticing all by itself. When Suda51 of Grasshopper gets involved, a big (or small) production Wii (or any other system) game is extremely appealing. At least Edge gave the game an 8 just to rub it in that we won’t ever play it in English (legally).
Trace Memory Wii
Their explanation: None
Does it make sense?: Cing’s games, including the DS Trace Memory, didn’t sell amazingly here. Still, they are Western themed (meaning there are no psychic training villages nor traditional Japanese clothing in them) adventure games and so appeal to a broad audience, and like others on this list, Trace Memory Wii was localized for Europe as Another Code R.
Why I want it: I liked Trace Memory and loved Hotel Dusk. The adventure genre is having something of a revival this generation based on Cing’s games, the Ace Attorneys, and episodic Telltale titles and it’s about damn time. Adventure games are like RPGs without endless random battles that consist of hitting “X” twenty times.
Disaster: Day of Crisis
Their explanation: The game sucks and we are better off without it.
Does it make sense?: No. The game was created to explicitly appeal to the Western markets and it already came out in Europe, so very little work would need to be done. In fact, rumor is the voice recording for an American release already happened but Reggie, in his infinite assholeness, blocked the game from going to retail.
Why I want it: The Wii needs games, especially games that have any similarities to the PS2’s under appreciated Disaster Report. The dialog in Day of Crisis is apparently terrible, which only makes it more appealing, and reviews peg it somewhere around a 7.326 out of 10. It may not be AAA and set the world on fire, but it sounds solid and the Wii needs long, involved single player games in traditional genres.
The particularly painful part of Nintendo’s apparent apathy toward releasing their games in the Western hemisphere is Nintendo of Japan’s dedication to games. It is bizarre that the same company that decided to create a game for America then not release it in America also produced the doomed Sin & Punishment 2 and released Ripening Tingle’s Balloon Trip of Love, a sequel to Freshly-Picked Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland, in Japan.
Perhaps it is simply a sense of misplaced nostalgia for a time and place that never was, but Nintendo of Japan seems to be so much more than Nintendo of America. They release small, barely commercial products there much more frequently and have long had an official Club for fans. Can blame be placed squarely upon Reggie’s slimy shoulders? Maybe, but Iwata still calls the shots at the end of the day and if he wanted Nintendo’s love of the medium to shine brightly across the globe, it would.